Raphale Cushnir, author of Surfing Your Inner Sea, offered us a lesson in serenity.
Here are 5 Key Points of Learning to Accept Both What We Can and Can NOT Change. Following these tips will create lasting serenity even in the middle of the worst calamity.
1) It is What It Is. Until It's Not.
These two simples sentences contain the key to a life of serenity.
Let's be completely clear. Working to make a positive difference regarding any realm of existence is always a great idea. It's part of what makes us human. But real, lasting change always begins with acceptance. If you want to heal a hurtful legacy from your childhood, you must first accept all of that hurt. If you want to improve your job satisfaction, you must first accept whatever makes the job unsatisfying. If you want to promote social or environmental justice, you must first accept the current injustice.
2) Understand the Opposite of Acceptance.
Imagine jumping into a lake. As soon as you hit the water, you realize that the lake is freezing. Instantly, your body recoils, sending the message that this experience is intolerable. Your mind begins screaming urgently, "Get out! Get out! Get out!"
This is the opposite of acceptance.
Now imagine jumping into a different lake. As soon as you hit the water, it envelops you in delightful, warm waves. Your pores immediately open to soak up all the pleasures. Your mind proclaims a joyful, "Yessssss."
This is acceptance--a full mind/body embrace of any experience as if it were a just-right lake
3) How To Embrace Freezing Lakes In Your Life.
Here's how. You say, "yes". It doesn't have to be a joyful yes. You don't have to want the experience, or like it at all. It's even okay to wish it were different. In saying yes, you simply affirm the one great, unavoidable truth--it is what it is. Then, and only then, can you begin to successfully explore ways to make it different.
I bear the scars of an unhappy childhood-yes.
My boss is rude and unappreciative-yes.
The world is at war-yes.
This isn't about creating fake serenity. It's not about pretending to be serene while ignoring what desperately needs your attention.
4) Know the connection between suffering and resistance.
No matter what type of challenges you face, no matter how impossible they appear to overcome, the first and foremost lesson regarding serenity will work for you and here it is: Your greatest suffering comes not from the misfortunes that befall you, but rather from your resistance to them. Therefore, as soon as you fully accept that which seems unacceptable, your pain begins to turn to peace.
The best way to personally demonstrate this is by sharing a personal story--many years ago, my first wife had an affair and left me. I was devastated. I couldn't believe that our "perfect marriage", the result of so much conscientious work, could just blow up in a flash like any other union. Every moment of every day felt like immersion into a lake below freezing. Rarely did 5 minutes go by in which my mind didn't pore obsessively over each excruciating detail of this massive indignity. I accepted none of it, not one bit. And I suffered ceaselessly as a result. Then one day I just gave up. Something inside me relaxed, unfurled. I didn't like my circumstances any better, but right there in the thick of them I experienced--you guessed it--serenity.
5) You're already a master of acceptance, even if it doesn't seem that way.
Nobody ever looks at a bird and complains that it's not a dog. Nobody demands that the kitchen table become a bed. You accept almost everything in your life as it is. You allow each element to take its natural place in the order of things. To argue against this natural order would seem, well, unnatural. It would also make you crazy! So why try to resist that anything else in life not have your acceptance exactly as it is--until it's not.